There is no doubt that the South has stepped up in the hip-hop world the past couple years, what there is doubt of, however, is how talented these emcees are on a lyrical level. Enter Chamillionaire, the self proscribed “truth from Texas.” On more than one occasion Chamillionaire has publicly stated that his goal is to prove that verifiable lyricists can come from the South. On the second single of his LP The Sound of Revenge
, “Ridin,'” Chamillionaire achieves that goal, creating a hit single with a mesmerizing flow that’s lyrically strong enough to compete with the hip-hop heavyweights.
Chamillionaire has a rapid delivery that manages to be clear enough to decipher, yet still fast enough that you’re always trying to keep up. On “Ridin,'” which features a guest spot from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony member Krayzie Bone, listeners are treated to a perfect pairing of talented emcees whose styles compliment each other with their speed and ability to switch up the flow mid-verse. “Ridin'” is an infectious track that has become a hit on the charts, radio, and as a video on MTV and BET. As of the second week of June, the song has been on the Billboard Hot 100 for sixteen weeks, peaking at number one and currently at number two. The track is produced by Play-N-Skillz, and has helped the album reach platinum status.
Chamillionaire started his career as many emcees do, on the mixtape circuit, where he collaborated with fellow Houston rappers Paul Wall and Slim Thug on the Swisha House label. Chamillionaire eventually left the label and started his own group, “The Color Changin’ Click,” which also featured Paul Wall. They made an album, “Get Ya Mind Correct” which became one of the hottest indie albums of the year, and their street buzz was deafening. As the group began talks about their second album, creative disputes between Chamillionaire and Paul Wall arose, eventually leading to Chamillionaire leaving the label and signing with Universal, where he released his major label debut.
The first single, “Turn it Up,” produced by Scott Storch and featuring Lil’ Flip, garnered some attention but wasn’t quite the breakthrough hit they wanted. The second single, “Ridin,'” turned out to be Chamillionaire’s breakthrough song and transformed him from a respected little-known rapper to a respected well-known rapper.
As for Chamillionaire’s beef with Paul Wall, it started with the standard dispute labeled as “creative differences” and escalated with Chamillionaire’s accusations that Wall and his entourage jumped Chamillionaire’s brother in a Houston nightclub. Chamillionaire spoke out against Wall following the incident, citing his disappointment with his longtime friend. However it appears that the two have made up, as Chamillionaire told the crowd of BET’s “106 & Park,” after a performance of “Ridin,'” that the past is behind them and they no longer have any hard feelings towards each other.
“Ridin'” is not only a club banger, but it’s also a song about how cops unfairly pull over blacks who happen to be in nice cars. Chamillionaire doesn’t hold back in his social prognosis, stating: “They think they know, that they catchin’ me with plenty of the drank n’ dro. So they get behind me, tryin’ to check my tags. Look at my rearview and they smiling,’ thinkin’ they’ll catch me on the wrong; keep tryin’, steady denyin’ it’s racial profilin’.” Krayzie Bone, sounding as good as he has since his killer verse on The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Notorious Thugs,” reminds us that there’s a fine line between being cautious and being fearless, stating: “With no regard for the law, we dodge ’em like f*ck-em-all. But I won’t get caught up on charges for none of y’all.”
The song succeeds in the fashion that all the best rap songs succeed; by creating an entertaining product that also has some social relevance. It also does what a lot of hip-hop songs aspire to: it introduces a new slang term into the urban lexicon. “Ridin’ Dirty” is now synonymous with driving with any reason for the cops to bust you. And after Chamillionaire’s hit song, we will all be a little more cautious as to never get caught, “Ridin’ Dirty.”